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We need a "BIRCH" or "LOW" for our new CEO?

I think it would be interesting to use the following as an example since we are presently on the lookout for a new "S.League CEO".

I'm not sure if the recent announcement by the league authority that they are on the lookout for a new man in charge of the league did actually set a buzz in the local football community, which is of late swayed by a number of things that taken place of late such as the joint FAS-FAM MOU and the Lions' making it to group stages qualifiers of the World Cup.

Nonetheless, I think as someone who is concerned about the future of Singapore football (even though, someone actually claimed I'm a 'killer' of it) I would like to share my thoughts here by using a case study not related to football from the past to the search for the new League boss.

The title suggested - "We need a "BIRCH" or "LOW" for our new CEO?" therefore brought us to the main characters of this entry - JWW Birch and Hugh Low.

The two gentlemen in BOLD were instrumental in the British Residential System during the Colonial times in the 19th century.


A sketch of JWW Birch (obtained via Resam Melayu )

Birch was first appointed as the "Resident" to the state of Perak in 1874 following the "Pangkor Treaty".

Despite being the administrative old hand for having served Ceylon prior to his appointment to his new role, Birch was portrayed as an "impatient man, insensitive to local cultures and wanted to have things changed quickly"

This was because of his impatient and lack of tact over several issues that eventually led to his assassination by a native chief in November 1875.

Sir Hugh Low

Portrait of Hugh Low (obtained via Wikipedia)

Hugh Low became the fourth "Resident" of Perak and is widely acknowledged as the first successful British colonial administrator in this part of the world.

Many factors attributed to the success of Low, for one thing, he was a tactful person and emphasized the "consultative" way to work with the native chief and the ruler of the state which eventually won him their trust from them.

Therefore, during his term in office Low was eventually phrased out some of the old practices that were hogging the development of the state, and by the time he retired from office in 1889 he transformed Perak from a state of anarchy to a model to be emulated by the rest of Malay States under this "Residential System".

(P.S: I will not dwell on what was written above-mentioned, as it's not the objective of this entry and I will express no opinions on those incidents either and what was written above is formulated based on what I read from sources available source1, source2, source3, source4, source5)


As we can see from the brief insights on both characters, Birch is seen as someone who was an impatient and gung-ho man to imposes his thoughts without taking into consideration those he worked with, whereas Low was more of an accommodating person and ready to listen and work out a solution to every problem he was facing.

Without going into further details of what are the problems we are facing nowadays which we are so familiar with, I would liken the present situation in local football that bears some resemblance to that faced by both Birch and Low in the late 19th century.

That's why I believe (and HOPE) with the wisdom of the selection panel, they would have taken into account all the factors that are deemed critical in getting the RIGHT person to run the show.

Would they want someone like Birch whose abrasive style of wanting to impose changes quickly to rid those nagging problems in a huff OR are we, the fans, willing to brace for another few more years before we see the harvesting of the crops if someone like Low is the patient cultivator?


  1. "Whoever appointed, I think need to be firm while understanding.

    Example, for a start, if he can say that he is not going to allow our S-League clubs to be bullied by that M-League team, it will definitely be welcome.

    Then his stand on the M-League team. Does he treat it as a "national" team? Or does he treat it as just another club, but back by FAS to play in the M-League?

    How does he protect the interest of our League?

    How does he coordinate the League with our National Team (the real one) to help them with their continental & global aspirations? How does he look to improve our League?

    More & more questions, maybe not just raised by me but also others. But as the League CEO, I think these are legitimate questions for him to answer.


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